Friday, July 29, 2016

Spanakopita Casserole #thebookclubcookbookCC

Spanakopita Casserole | Tortillas and Honey

We are finally at a close to this year-long culinary journey for The Book Club Cookbook Cooking Crew! For this past year, a different blogger each month chose a book for other bloggers to create and post a recipe inspired by the selected book. For our final month, our event hostess, Camilla over at Culinary Adventures with Camilla chose Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernières.

Since starting and finishing graduate school, I found myself with little energy and time to read which is pretty unfortunate because reading has always been one of my favorite things to do. So I was thrilled when I was invited to participate in this event. Even though reading the books were optional, I tried to read as many of the books that I could and am thankful to have been introduced to some great novels and bloggers!

This final month, I decided to try my hand at making spanakopita as suggested by The Book Club Cookbook. I adore spanakopita and have always wanted to try making it. Well. It didn't go as well as I'd hoped. Combine the lack of patience with an unsteady hand, I made a complete mess of the phyllo dough. I made five individual pieces before giving up completely and deciding to make the spanakopita into a casserole. The five pieces that I made actually came out out of the oven delicious and buttery, but my impatience won this battle.

To make this recipe, I placed four phyllo sheets on the bottom and six phyllo sheets on the top of the casserole and it worked beautifully. Because of the amount of filling, the casserole came out much more like a quiche because of the eggs. If you don't have the patience or the hand for making spanakopita, this is your next best option!

Additionally, you can totally halve this recipe and make a 9x9 dish. I've also made this without the phyllo dough and topped with gluten-free panko and drizzled with melted butter (this alternative tastes more like a quiche).

Also, please check out the wonderful bloggers below who are participating in The Book Club Cook Book Cooking Crew and see what they have created this month. You can also follow this project on social media with the hashtag #thebookclubcookbookCC. We'll be posting all of our creations to our Pinterest board. Here's the team, in alphabetical order, with links to their homepages.

Cheese Curd In Paradise               
Life on Food       
The Pajama Chef              
The Spiffy Cookie             
Things I Make (for Dinner)           
Tortillas and Honey         

For July, Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla, this month's host, is giving away two copies of the book.* Enter to win a copy of the cookbook!

TWO of our lucky readers - US and Canada only! - can enter to win a copy of The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, courtesy of Tarcher-PenguinGiveaway runs from July 1st till July 31st at 6 o'clock PM, Pacific time. Please see terms and conditions in the rafflecopter widget below. Many thanks to Tarcher Books. You may find Tarcher: on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Pinterest.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Disclosure: Camilla received a complimentary copy of The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp as an opportunity to give two copies away. Opinions are our own. We received no further compensation for our posts.

Spanakopita Casserole | Tortillas and Honey

Spanakopita Casserole | Tortillas and Honey

Spanakopita Casserole | Tortillas and Honey

Spanakopita Casserole | Tortillas and Honey

Spanakopita Casserole | Tortillas and Honey

Spankopita Casserole
slightly adapted from The Book Club Cookbook

2 10-oz. packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed
6-8 scallions
9 Tbs. butter
8 oz. feta cheese, crumbed
12 oz. small curd cottage cheese
8 eggs
8-oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
freshly ground salt
freshly ground pepper
8-10 sheets phyllo dough

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Thaw the spinach and drain in a colander. Taking a handful of spinach at a time, squeeze out all moisture. Roll spinach in a clean dish towel and wring dry. Place in a large bowl.

Chop the green and white parts of scallions separately. Melt 2 T of butter in a skillet and saute the scallion whites until soft, approximately 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in scallion greens. Add to the spinach along with the feta and cottage cheese.

In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat the eggs briefly. Add the cream cheese and continue to beat until smooth. Add to spinach mixture.

Stir in 3 T melted butter. Add salt and pepper to taste (take care with the salt as feta cheeses vary in their saltiness).

Keep a bowl of 4 Tbs. melted butter handy. While making the spanakopita casserole, always keep the phyllo covered with plastic wrap or damp dishcloth to prevent drying.

Place one sheet of phyllo dough on the bottom of a 9x13 dish and brush with melted butter. Repeat this step with three additional phyllo dough sheets, for a total of 4 sheets. The phyllo sheets may overlap the top of the dish, that's okay.

Pour the spinach mixture on top of the phyllo mixture. Then repeat the previous process of layering phyllo dough sheets and butter with 6 phyllo dough sheets. Roll the phyllo dough that's overhanging to make a "crust."

Bake 35-45 minutes, until puffy and golden. Serve warm.

Serves 8-12, depending on size.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Lavender Shortbread Cookies (#UnearthedParty)

Lavender Shortbread Cookies | Tortillas and Honey

I was invited to participate in the #UnearthedParty by the authors of The Book Club Cook Book where bloggers get to review and feature recipes inspired by Alexandra Risen's memoir called "Unearthed: Love, Acceptance, and Other Lessons from an Abandoned Garden."

This memoir features two things, the uncovering of her family's history and the uncovering of a secret garden in her newly bought house in which she interweaves the two very well, I thought. Each chapter has a featured plant that goes along with the story and a recipe for the plant at the end of the chapter, like tisane, seaweed, and sour cherries. Because I live in New Mexico and combined with a limited knowledge of plants and gardening, I found myself so intrigued learning about new plants and uses for them. And although I live in the desert, I'm very much a city girl who has been longing for her own vegetable garden and this memoir has made me want all the more to have a green thumb.

Unearthed (Alexandra Risen)

For this book, I decided to make a Lavender Shortbread Cookie recipe. This recipe is similar to my Lavender Spritz Cookies, but it doesn't have baking powder and egg and it has more butter to flour ratio. This recipe was given to me several years ago in a cooking class through my work, which actually was my first introduction to culinary use of lavender. Many of the recipes in Alexandra's book contained a main ingredient that wasn't easily accessible here in New Mexico, so I decided to make a recipe with lavender which we have in abundance here!

I absolutely love lavender and the gorgeous purple hues among all the varieties of lavender. Lavender offers beautiful pops of color in our desert landscape! Incorporating lavender lends a gentle aroma and taste, which isn't overwhelming. I love the scent of fresh lavender and I actually have two bundles of lavender drying in my office at work which my former boss brought me.

If you do decide to pick your own lavender, please see some guidelines from the book before to make sure that you are being safe in what you select and eat.

Foraging Guidelines

1. Avoid areas where you know pesticides are used. Be careful of major roadsides, industrial areas, or areas where heavy chemical use may occur.

2. If you are prone to allergies, be careful. Have appropriate medical supplies with you.

3. You may want to test plants by rubbing on your skin before picking. If in doubt, don’t pick at all.

4. Learn to identify plants. Before handling any plants and using them in the recipes and crafts in this book, consult a reputable guide for safely identifying plants.

5. Respect endangered species in your area. It is illegal to pick

6. Pick only what you need, and protect the roots of plants.

7. If you are washing leaves, add a teaspoonful of white vinegar or lemon juice to a large bowl and let them soak a few minutes before rinsing. Pat dry with paper towels.

8. Some plant parts are edible, some are not. Sometimes the season affects what part of a plant is edible.

9. Some plants are poisonous. There are also some look-alike plants. It is important to be aware of these.

For more information about the author, publisher, and the Book Club Cookbook, please visit below!

Publisher (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt):

Twitter • Facebook • Tumblr • Pinterest • Instagram

Author's (Alexandra Risen):  

Book Club Cookbook: 

Twitter • Facebook • Pinterest 

I also want to thank Rolling Rock Farm for sending me a variety of garlic salts to add to my salt collection! Apparently I collect BBQ sauce, honey, and salts and there ain't anything wrong with that! I've been using these as a secret little ingredient to add to my meals!

I received a complimentary copy of this book to review, including the salt basket as a thank you for my honest review, with no further compensation . All opinions here are my own.

Lavender Shortbread Cookies | Tortillas and Honey

Lavender Shortbread Cookies | Tortillas and Honey

Lavender Shortbread Cookies | Tortillas and Honey

Lavender Shortbread Cookies | Tortillas and Honey

Lavender Shortbread Cookies | Tortillas and Honey

Lavender Shortbread Cookies

1 c. unsalted butter, softened
2/3 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. lemon extract
2 c. all-purpose flour, sifted
1 Tbs. dried lavender flowers
1/8 tsp. salt

Cream butter, sugar, vanilla, and lemon extract.

Add flour, lavender flowers, and salt. (If dough is sticky, add additional 1/4 cup of flour-- dough should be soft and not sticky.).

Chill 1-2 hours.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters and place on ungreased cookie sheet).

Bake 10-15 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned around the edges.

Place cookies on cooling rack.

Makes 2-3 dozen cookies, depending on size. 


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